Isn’t it amazing how scientists could predict years in advance the exact day and time each part of the United States would be able to view the eclipse?
The eclipse was wondrous, not just because of its predictability, but also its ability to stop society, across the United States, in their tracks. En masse we looked up at the heavens and were in awe, young and old. My sister and I, she in Colorado and I in Texas, shared the moment, admiring the star of our solar system despite the miles apart.
My 11 year old commented after learning that the next eclipse would be in 7 years, that he would be 18, a senior in high school. Be still my heart, hold back the tears as that thought plays out in my mind. The inexorable march of time, the future approaching steadily until it is the present and we take note of the moment of our time and place in it. The date of my children’s graduation from high school looms with as much set certainty as the elliptical movement of the moon, but it will be my personal eclipse. Watching adulthood overtake their childhood, a slow and steady progression that can’t be stopped- only witnessed and appreciated. Our children’s milestones may not be synchronized, but they are another shared moment of humanity.
Thinking about the movement of the planets both broadens and narrows our attention. We give personal weight to the sign of our birth, our zodiac- the constellation in line with the sun and Earth at the time we made our appearance and sucked in the first lungful of shared air. Many ascribe their personal destiny to their horoscope. The date and time of our last breath is also pre-ordained and approaches like clockwork, but blissfully we will be the only ones not cognizant of that date. As birthdays pass or I commemorate the deaths of loved ones, I morbidly wonder as the next year passes which date my children will mourn as the anniversary that I made my exit. The days where I have a particular sense of unease and angst- maybe somewhere in my spirit I’m unknowingly resisting the tug of my date with destiny.
How small these celestial maneuverings make us feel. The spectacle in the sky inspiring a dawning realization of how much a part of something larger than ourselves we really are. The eclipse was a reminder that we were the lucky creatures, scuttling around on the Earth’s surface, privileged spectators at that specific moment in geological time to witness the passage of two silent bodies, passing like giant ships as they sailed through space. We were at the juncture when the stars, literally, aligned. It was a reminder on a grand scale that we are passengers spinning through space, partners waltzing in circles through a choreographed kaleidoscope of light and shadow.
The eclipse was a shared experience, an attention grabber causing us to notice our place among the cogs of the universe as they turn. It was a day to take a break from the drivel and politics, a refreshing change to see the news-feeds dominated by discussion of science- an indisputable piece of science that could not be denied or debated. Solar eclipse 2017 was a solid piece of inspiration and wonder, undeniable and universally agreed upon as special, a reminder of our shared humanity. Perfect timing indeed.